Over half (53%) of the children and young people's workforce have received 'little' or 'no' learning in their initial training about typical speech, language and communication (SLC) development.
In summer 2016, more than 1200 members of the children and young people's workforce responded to a survey from The Communication Trust, which asked about their experiences of professional development in speech, language and communication (SLC). Their responses revealed that, although they were nearly unanimous (99%) in their belief in the vital importance of children's SLC skills, there are significant gaps in their professional development in this area. Nearly two thirds (60%) had 'little' or 'no' initial training focussed on identifying and supporting children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and only 4% of the workforce felt they accessed sufficient training in relation to SLC.
We found that nearly half of respondents working in the early years had received little to no initial training around children's typical SLC development, despite SLC being a mandatory part of the Early Years Educator (Level 3) qualifications criteria. We have been expecting the government to produce an early years workforce strategy since last year, and it's essential that learning about SLC development and SLCN is a part of every early years practitioner's training, given the vital role that they play in supporting children's language development and helping to spot developing communication difficulties.
In England there are likely to be at least two children in every primary school classroom with a clinically significant language disorder, and many more with delayed language. The Communication Trust, in partnership with our consortium of more than 50 members, works to support all children and young people to communicate to the best of their ability. Supporting the children and young people's workforce to enhance their knowledge and skills is a vital part of the Trust's work. We have produced a report presenting the findings of our consultation with the workforce and offering recommendations as to how their access to quality professional development in speech, language and communication can be better supported.
The Communication Trust is calling for:
• All members of the children and young people's workforce to have entry level training in SLC/SLCN.
• Ofsted inspections to routinely report on support for SLC/SLCN provision.
• Training and workforce strategies to include working with parents to develop their knowledge and understanding of SLC/SLCN.
Please click here to read our report.